Columbus Academy Roundup: Girls basketball team looks to take next step

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior guard Sophie Spolter is one of the top returnees for the Academy girls basketball team and second-year coach Heather Rakosik. The Vikings hope to improve on last season's finish of 8-15 overall and 3-11 in the MSL-Ohio.

With a pair of key returning players expected to lead the way, second-year Columbus Academy girls basketball coach Heather Rakosik has high hopes for her team.

She believes the Vikings can improve on last season's finish of 8-15 overall and 3-11 in the MSL-Ohio Division.

“Having a new coach last year, the chemistry with the coaching staff as well as the players has improved,” Rakosik said. “We’re just looking to amp up our intensity, the pressure we’re putting on opponents. We’re looking to get up and down the floor and use our talent with our two guards Kayla (McClendon) and Sophie (Spolter) and complement them with the rest of the kids on the team.”

McClendon, a senior, and Spolter, a junior, both are 5-foot-6 guards.

Last season, McClendon averaged 10.8 points and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district in Division III.

“This will definitely be our best year out of my high school career, so I’m excited about that,” McClendon said. “I’ve been able to do stuff this offseason to put myself in position to be at my best. I’ll be able to help my team a lot more.”

Spolter averaged a team-high 14.9 points last season and was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district. She helped lead the girls soccer team to its second consecutive Division III state tournament this fall while playing goalie. 

“She’s excited and ready to go,” Rakosik said.

Also back are junior forward Claudia Warstler (5-10) and sophomore forward Claire Cahall (5-10).

Other players are senior guard Olivia Archibald (5-2), juniors Kennedy Jackson (5-7, forward) and Diana Ulbrich (5-5, guard) and sophomore forward Samantha Frickel (5-9).

Senior Chloe Gouhin, a 5-5 guard who last played in ninth grade, has rejoined the program. Gouhin is a renowned fencer at the national level.

“Chloe is a great addition back,” Rakosik said.

Academy is scheduled to visit Harvest Prep on Saturday, Dec. 5, and Columbus School for Girls on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the school was planning to determine the status of athletics after the Thanksgiving break.

“We’ve been with coach for a longer time and we’re more aware of what she wants from us,” McClendon said. “We have a better understanding. We all know our roles, so that will be a big part of our success this year, people having different roles and knowing how to stick to them.”

Last season, the Vikings finished seventh in the MSL-Ohio behind champion Whitehall (13-1).

“I’m sure Worthington Christian will be strong,” Rakosik said. “There were some shakeups at Whitehall. We’re bigger and better and ready to compete.”

Junior forward Jake Carlin (right) helped the Academy  hockey team win its first league title last season. He had 14 goals and 13 assists and was named first-team all-CHC-Blue.

Hockey team looks

to build on success

After losing just one player to graduation in forward Philip Soderberg, the hockey team is looking to build on its success from a season ago.

The Vikings won the program’s first league title, finishing first in the CHC-Blue at 7-7-1-1 (16 points). They finished 10-13-1-2 overall.

“We’re looking as good as we ever have,” fourth-year coach Corey Taber said. “We’re extremely deep this year. We have 28 players. It’s the most we’ve ever had. We lost one senior last year. We have key returning kids and we’ve added a handful of freshmen. We’ve added a lot of players who already have pretty solid hockey experience and we’ve also added a couple who are new to the game.”

The start of Academy's season was delayed by the pandemic.

Senior forward/defenseman Campbell Gwin led the Vikings in league play last season with 20 goals and 11 assists, and junior forward Jake Carlin had 14 goals and 13 assists. Both were named first-team all-CHC-Blue.

Junior forward Andrew Zaki had 10 goals and eight assists, senior forward Luke Budzik had nine goals and junior defenseman Allen Koganov had nine assists.

Senior goalie Max Crane allowed just 13 goals in CHC-Blue play.

“Max looks fantastic this year,” Taber said. “He improves a lot every summer. He’s looking great already this year. We’re excited.”

Also back are seniors Patrick Daly (defenseman), Andrew Golden (forward), Suzy L'Hommedieu (defenseman), Nate Rausch (forward) and Xander Wood (forward), juniors Jack Carlin (forward), Connor Harris (defenseman), Cassidy Jones (forward), Arden Preza (forward), Alex Sterkowicz (forward) and Max Walker (forward) and sophomore Ethan Kim (forward).

Other players are junior Kyle Bernstorf (goalie), sophomores A.J. Bradley (forward), Jake Lichten (forward) and Griffen Meyers (forward) and freshmen Elijah Broh (forward), Julius Feibel (forward), Lauren Golden (defenseman), Joseph Sardo (forward), Eric Schuster (forward) and Nicolas Tiberi (forward).

“I’m just hoping nothing happens this year to knock us out because this was our year,” Taber said. “We’ll see what happens.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Heather Rakosik, second season

Top players: Claire Cahall, Kayla McClendon, Sophie Spolter and Claudia Warstler

Key loss: Emma Belford

Last season: 8-15 overall

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Whitehall (13-1), Worthington Christian (12-2), Bexley (10-4), Buckeye Valley (7-7), Grandview (6-8), Columbus School for Girls (5-9), Columbus Academy (3-11), Wellington (0-14)

2020 postseason: Lost to North Union 53-42 in second round of Division III district tournament

HOCKEY

Coach: Corey Taber, fourth season

Top players: Jake Carlin, Max Crane and Campbell Gwin

Key loss: Philip Soderberg

Last season: 10-13-1-2 overall

2019-20 CHC-Blue standings: Academy (16, 7-7-1-1), Watterson (14, 7-9), Gahanna (10, 5-11), Dublin Scioto (4, 2-14), DeSales (0, 0-16)

2020 postseason: Defeated Cincinnati Sycamore 7-4; lost to St. Charles 8-3 in second round of district tournament